2 min read
26 May

What is Vulvovaginitis?

Vulvovaginitis refers to inflammation or irritation of the vulva and vagina, which can cause discomfort and various symptoms. It is a common condition that affects many women. This handout provides an overview of the causes, prevention, medical treatment, and self-care strategies for managing vulvovaginitis. 

Causes of Vulvovaginitis:

Infections: Bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections (Candida), and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as trichomoniasis, chlamydia, or gonorrhea can lead to vulvovaginitis. 

Allergies or Irritants: Reactions to certain soaps, laundry detergents, perfumes, bubble baths, or fabric softeners can cause vulvovaginal irritation. 

Hormonal Changes: Fluctuations in hormone levels, such as during pregnancy or menopause, can contribute to vulvovaginal inflammation. 

Poor Hygiene: Improper cleaning practices, excessive douching, or using harsh cleansers near the vaginal area may disrupt the natural balance and cause irritation. 

Foreign Objects: Introduction of foreign objects into the vagina, such as tampons or contraceptive devices, can cause irritation or infection. 

Prevention of Vulvovaginitis:

Practice Good Hygiene: Clean the genital area gently with warm water and mild, fragrance-free soap. Avoid using douches, scented tampons, and harsh cleansers. 

Wear Breathable Clothing: Choose underwear made of cotton or other breathable fabrics. Avoid tight-fitting clothing, as it can trap moisture and promote bacterial growth. 

Avoid Irritants: Steer clear of perfumed soaps, bubble baths, scented tampons, and synthetic fabrics that may cause irritation. 

Practice Safe Sex: Use condoms and practice safe sex to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections. 

Stay Hydrated: Drink an adequate amount of water daily to maintain overall vaginal health and moisture balance. 

Medical Treatment for Vulvovaginitis:

Antibiotics: If vulvovaginitis is caused by a bacterial infection, your healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics to eliminate the bacteria. 

Antifungal Medications: In cases of yeast infections, antifungal creams, ointments, or oral medications may be recommended to combat the fungal overgrowth. 

Antiviral Medications: If vulvovaginitis is caused by a viral infection, antiviral medications may be prescribed to manage the condition. 

STI Treatment: In the case of vulvovaginitis resulting from sexually transmitted infections, appropriate medications will be prescribed to address the specific infection. 

Hormonal Therapy: If hormonal changes contribute to vulvovaginal inflammation, hormonal treatments or topical estrogen creams may be recommended to alleviate symptoms. 

Self-Care Strategies for Vulvovaginitis: 

Maintain Proper Hygiene: Clean the vulva gently with water and mild soap. Avoid excessive washing or using strong cleansers. 

Avoid Irritating Products: Steer clear of scented soaps, bubble baths, and perfumes near the genital area. Use hypoallergenic, fragrance-free products. 

Wear Loose Clothing: Opt for loose-fitting clothing and breathable cotton underwear to promote airflow and reduce moisture accumulation. 

Apply Cool Compresses 

Avoid Irritating Activities: Refrain from activities that may further irritate the vulva and vagina, such as using hot tubs, swimming in chlorinated pools, or engaging in vigorous exercise. 

Use Lubrication: If dryness is a contributing factor, use water-based lubricants during sexual activity to reduce friction and discomfort. 

Practice Safe Sex: Use condoms to prevent the spread of infections and reduce the risk of recurrent vulvovaginitis. 

Manage Stress: High levels of stress can impact the immune system and make you more susceptible to infections. Engage in stress-reducing activities like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or hobbies that bring you joy. 

Avoid Tight Clothing: Avoid wearing tight pants, leggings, or pantyhose that can trap moisture and exacerbate symptoms. Opt for loose-fitting, breathable clothing instead. Maintain a Healthy Diet: Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help support a healthy immune system and overall vaginal health. 

Stay Hydrated: Drink an adequate amount of water to help maintain proper hydration and support vaginal moisture balance. 

Avoid Smoking and Excessive Alcohol: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can disrupt the natural balance of the vaginal flora. Quit smoking and drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. 

Remember, it is essential to consult with your healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan for vulvovaginitis. They will provide guidance tailored to your specific situation and address any concerns you may have.

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